Investors complain to FOS following Woodford fund suspension

The fund was suspended in June 2019, preventing investors from selling their holding in the fund.

Funds and Investment Trusts June 4, 2020 by Tom Bailey

Over 100 complaints concerning Neil Woodford’s funds were launched with the Financial Complaints Ombudsman (FOS) following the suspension of Woodford Equity Income last year.

Complaints data published on 3 June covering the financial year ending 31 March 2020 showed that the FOS had received a total of 107 complaints relating to the fund following its suspension.

The fund was suspended in June 2019, preventing investors from selling their holding in the fund. The fund was initially suspended in attempt to allow the fund to reposition itself following a surge of withdrawals. This was due to the fund’s relatively large exposure to unlisted equites. 

By October last year, however, it was decided that the fund would not re-open and instead be “wound up”. Since then the fund’s remaining assets have been sold-off with the proceeds going to investors on a per share basis. Most investors, however, have seen significant losses.  

Complaints about the fund lodged with the FOS were directly against the fund and Woodford Investment Management as well as investment platforms and financial advisers accused of encouraging investors to opt for the fund. Some investment platforms have been accused of pushing the fund to investors despite the apparent problems of the fund.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been criticised for its handling of complaints concerning the fund’s suspension. Published the by the Complaints Commissioner (2 June), the report accused the FCA of poorly handling complaints related to the fund’s suspension

The FCA was accused of providing contradictory information relating to its decision to investigate complaints about the fund.

The city watchdog had previously been criticised for not acting sooner when it became clear that Woodford Equity Income’s holding in unlisted equities was in breach of rules.

The FOS data also showed that financial complaints against financial advisers were down in 2019/20 by 15% compared to the previous year.

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